What, Why & When
A check-in at the beginning of each meeting, workshop or seminar can help teams and groups to get a better understanding of each other's energy level, personal environment or the status of work. You can basically use it with every group of people, even your clique or your family. The check-out helps to summarize decisions, distributed tasks and supports evaluating the atmosphere in the group. Both the check-in and check-out can become a habit for each meeting.
- create understanding of each other's personal situation
- enhance empathy for the team members
- get updated on each other's work and tasks
- prevent misunderstandings
In a check-in, different questions can be answered which have to be defined by the moderator of the meeting. Usually, at the beginning of the meeting, as soon as everybody has arrived and settled, the group sits in a circle. Then, the moderator asks each person to share how they are feeling, if something bothers them and invites them to answer a question such as "The most inspiring thing I learned this week was...". You should set a rough time limit to each answer, e.g. three minutes, to keep the check-in short. If somebody is rambling too long, as a moderator, you should remind them of the time limit.
For the check-out, you can also modify the question according to the situation. Sometimes, it's useful to ask what everybody has learned or what their take-home message is from the meeting. You can also ask whether there are any unanswered questions and how the energy level is. Further, you can ask for a quick feedback on the meeting or the session.
Both the check-in and check-out should not last longer than 20-30 minutes. If your group is too big, you can split it up in smaller groups.
- no commenting on each other's statements → comparable to the flashlight method
- active listening
- you can go clockwise and if somebody does not want to say something, it's also fine
- check-ins and check-outs are a routine, not a one time thing - try to establish it as the normal process of starting and finishing a meeting
- this time belongs to personal insights and is not meant to complete tasks or make arrangements
It may happen that - especially in meetings in which the members do not know each other well - the members might not want to share their very personal stories or want to be honest about their current feelings. It can help that you as a moderator start the round and share a private insight if you like. Additionally, you should mention that the members should only share what they feel comfortable with.
Teams that work together for a longer time, already know each other and had developed problems and arguments before, might raise them in a check-in. Hence, as a moderator of established teams, always plan some back-up time to discuss challenges or arguments in the team.
Links & Further Reading
- For More Productive Meetings, Do a Mindset Check-In First
- Generator for Check-In questions
- Why a Quick Check-In Makes Meetings More Effective
The author of this entry is Alexa Böckel.